Saffron Walden Waitrose opens its doors to unveil refurbishments

Waitrose manager Malcolm Domb with the staff at the new store

Waitrose manager Malcolm Domb with the staff at the new store - Credit: Archant

Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Saffron Walden, cut the ribbon with three employees who had worked for the store for 30 years when the town’s new Waitrose store was opened on Thursday (September 3).

Carolyn Brennan, Anne Harris and Pat Storey were at the supermarket on its first day on November 5, 1985 and are still working there. Sir Alan said he was glad to open the “refurbished, revamped, revitalised” and expanded store. As he held up the scissors, there was already a small crowd facing him with their trolleys at the ready - lined up like a battery of cannons for when the store opened at 8am.

Sir Alan was delighted when he was presented with a cricket bat signed by the England Cricket Team. Waitrose is the team’s sponsor.

There was yet another celebration at the grand opening, Bett Carter, who works on fresh foods, had became a grandmother that morning. Her grandson was born just before 3.30am. Bett, who had started work at 5am, was moved to tears when branch manager, Malcolm Domb presented her with flowers, in front of some 200 staff assembled for a group photograph.

The new store has 270 staff, 70 more than the old one and another 20 people are likely to be recruited. Some partners, who live in Saffron Walden but were working in Cambridge or Bishop’s Stortford are now working closer to home.

The new store has a café, open from 7am to 7pm with free tea and coffee with your Waitrose Card if you buy breakfast. There is also a snack café in bakery so that, as Jane Barnett-Roberts, head of retail, said: “You can have your cake and eat it.” Customers can also order celebration cakes on an iPad next to the display case.

Fruit and vegetables have been expanded and there is an extensive wine and spirits section.

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On the day of opening, by 8.30am, both the cafes were enjoying good trade and customers were contentedly sitting, chatting or reading the paper as though they had been going there regularly for years.